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How to Market Your iOS App: The Definitive Guide to App Store Success


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Kinvey's eBook, “How to Market Your iOS App: The Definitive Guide to App Store Success,” helps app developers promote the app they’ve built. It’s practical tips about cutting through the App Store clutter.

Published in: Technology

How to Market Your iOS App: The Definitive Guide to App Store Success

  2. 2. Table of Contents 2 Introduction 4 The Fundamentals 7 A quality app: The path to getting featured by Apple10 Pre-launch Hype: Success starts early14 Push: The importance of media and how to get coverage20 Optimize: Prepping for the App Store “shelves”25 Final Thoughts
  3. 3. 1Introduction
  4. 4. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESS 2Theres something special about building a product that can be usedby over 500 million people across the world.When creating an iPhone or iPad application, it is your opportunity todo just that – reach a massive customer base that only continues togrow. However, where opportunity exists, competition soon follows,and the Apple App Store is no exception.As of September 2012, there were over 700,000 iPhone and iPad appsin the App Store. This is an astounding number considering there werejust 500 apps when the App Store opened in 2008. In fact, its estimated that the App Store Review Team receives over 1,000 app submissions daily. More- over, 90 percent of the apps in the Apple App Store are down- loaded each month. Of course, that 90 percent figure includes many apps that are downloaded very few times. A single download doesnt make a business, nor does it mean success. So how can developersmarket their apps to reach more potential customers?While there’s no universal formula behind a “hit” app, there are proventechniques that increase the odds of an app being successful. Just lookat mobile developers like tap tap tap and Real Mac Software –theyve been able to turn out multiple App Store “hits” because theynot only build compelling apps, but they also know how to exposethem to a wide audience.This book will detail many proven app-marketing techniques to helpyou get your app the attention it deserves.
  5. 5. 2The Fundamentals
  6. 6. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESS 4The app store isn’t your only marketing channel. Seeing your appin the App Store may be an awesome feeling, but just because it’sthere, doesnt mean that anyone else will discover it. You should notrely on the App Store to be the sole driver of traffic to your app.Successful apps, like most successful products, require a mix ofmarketing channels – a combination that reaches an audience wideenough to give your app the exposure it needs to build and sustainmomentum.Building a website, conductingemail marketing, and leveragingsocial media channels to funnelprospective customers to your AppStore listing are important compo-nents in mobile marketing. Hopingto be found, on the other hand,isn’t a viable strategy.Start early and get ahead.Building interest in your app shouldbegin the moment you come upwith a viable idea for the product. Dont wait until youre in the AppStore to come up with a promotional plan. Instead parallel track yourvision for how the app will get built and how it will get discovered.Creating an app is a journey, and every app is competing for limited“real estate” in the App Store and on the user’s device. The App StoreCharts showcase only what Apple thinks will sell. Familiarizing yourselfwith Apple’s preferences ahead of time will give you the best chance atseparating yourself from the hundreds of thousands of other appsvying for the consumers’ attention.Invest in quality design. Design is key to App Store success. Thisdoesnt just mean how the app looks, but also how it functions.If you look through the top apps in each category, the majority have acarefully executed UX – one designed to help users understand whatthe app does and how easy it is to do it.
  7. 7. 3 A Quality App:The Path to Getting Featured by Apple
  8. 8. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESS 6The best marketing begins with ahigh quality product. Apple isultimately a meritocracy. If yourapp is poor, its unlikely that it willbe a “hit.” Crafting a quality app ischallenging, but when you makean awesome product, marketingbegins to fall into place.Keep it simple. Shoot to build anapp that solves a specific problemin an efficient and beautiful way.It may seem like theres an app foreverything, but there is room for major improvements in certaincategories. For instance, there were over 6,000 to-do list apps in theApp Store before Clear came along and grabbed the lions share ofattention in the category.What did Clear do right? It turned a rote to-do list into something fun.It overwhelmed the market with simplicity. Partly because of Clearsintuitive design, the app was also featured by Apple and jumped to thetop of the App Store charts.Whats your edge? Identify your app’s “unfair advantage” early. Howwill it differ from similar apps? Does it have a killer feature? A radicallydifferent UX? Is integration its “secret sauce”? Whatever it is, build thatutility first and cut features that distract from your advantage. “More”isn’t necessarily better when it comes to mobile apps. Allegedly,Tumblr CEO David Karp requires that for every feature added onemust be removed. He understands that “feature creep” often corrodesthe user’s experience.When Instagram first started, it was a location-based social networkpacked with a whole bunch of features. As a result, the app didnt takeoff the way the company wanted it to. Yet when they pared it down toits core – making it simple to create and share beautiful photos –Instagram took off.The value Instagram provided – making everyone feel like a photogra-pher – was what attracted their initial customer base. This led to more
  9. 9. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESS 7photos being created, and ultimately the opportunity for a full-blownsocial network revolving around photos to be born.Focus on the core utility that your app provides to your customers firstand keep your feature set to a minimum.Invest in good design. Theres no question that design is a core pillarto App Store success. Apple is synonymous with exceptional designand it is a huge part of what has made the company one of the mostprofitable organizations in the world. Keep in mind that good design ismore than interface deep. Good design permeates all levels of an app.As Steve Jobs said, "Design is not just what it looks like and feels like.Design is how it works." In other words, allocate a large portion of your time to get the flow, signup “Design is not just steps, and transitions right for each what it looks and screen in your app. Ensure that its feels like. Design is crystal clear for your customers to how it works.” understand what they should do next. –Steve Jobs If you have a background in mobile design, awesome. If not, consider investing in a professional mobile click to tweet designer. It may be an up-front expense, but the return on quality design is significant.Getting featured. One way to increase your app’s chances of beingfeatured in the App Store is for it to use elements from Apples latestOS and/or hardware releases. Featuring apps that have integratedwith Apples most recent OS or hardware is in the company’s bestinterest. For instance, when Apple released iCloud, apps thatintegrated with Apple’s personal cloud service enjoyed special atten-tion. Stay informed on Apple’s latest updates and consider making useof them in your app.
  10. 10. 4 Pre-Launch Hype:Success Starts Early
  11. 11. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESS 9Think about how Mailbox launched.The app achieved months of hypecreated through multiple marketingchannels: social media, bloggerpreviews, even a dose of gamifica-tion (pre-registrants were told howmany people were in front of themand behind them “in line” for thedownload). Mailbox proved you don’tneed an Apple-like budget to createan Apple-like launch. You need agreat product, a multi-channelmindset, and a bit of moxie. You alsoneed to think ascreatively about marketing as you did for the appitself. Mailbox’s gamification triggered the lion’s share of its socialmedia exposure – and the app wasn’t even in general availability yet.The current App Store ranking algorithm places a disproportionateweight on the first four days an app is in the App Store. Time matters.You have a very short period of time to generate the groundswell ofinterest needed to boost your app’s placement to the top of thecharts. By starting to build up interest before your app is accepted tothe App Store, youll have a running start while your competition isflat-footed.Get a website. From the moment you begin to develop your app,build a landing page to collect emails – even if it only features an emailsignup box and a simple description of your concept. Your landingpage can later evolve into a website that will serve as the hub of yourmarketing efforts, giving you a channel to reach and inform customersoutside of the App Store walls.Use a hype-generating tactic. It’s noisy out there, and getting noticedis becoming increasingly difficult. Many successful apps have turnedtheir community members into thousands of individual marketingchannels. In other words, they found unconventional ways to createhype in advance of their app’s release.Here are some examples: 1. Limit supply to create a sense of scarcity and privilege among those who successfully register.
  12. 12. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESS 10 allowed new signups to reserve their username. This simple tactic generated roughly 20,000 sign-ups before the website went live. 2. Use an invite-only and referral system Mailbox created an invite-only program that granted access to a limited number of people at a time. This helped the app generate media coverage from most major technology publi- cations and created hype on Twitter from influential members of the mobile community. Share your story. Storytelling is one of the best ways to connect with people on a deeper emo- tional level. Research shows that our brains become more active when we hear a narrative versus read a list of bullet points. Think about why you decided to build your app in the first place. Tell this story on your website when you speak to customers, partners,and the media to help them identify with your project. Personalmotivation app Everest fostered a powerful sense of emotion on itswebsite by highlighting the aspirations of members of its community.As youre creating your app, build momentum by sharing elementslike: • A demo video • Photos of your team • Real life profiles of users (even beta users) • Sketches of app designs in the worksWhere to tell your story: 1. Setup a blog
  13. 13. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESS 11 Use a blog as your central story-telling channel. 2. Setup your social channels Create a Facebook and Twitter account for your app and use them as channels to share your progress. Think of Facebook and Twitter as vehicles to distribute your story, with an emph- asis on the people behind your app. Remember that nobody befriends a logo. People turn to social media to engage with other people. Be sure your team enjoys your social media spotlight.Even while youre deep in developing your app, dont neglect updatingyour followers with what youre working on or what will be comingsoon. These are powerful ways to keep your audience engaged.
  14. 14. 5Push: The Importance of Media and How to Get Coverage
  15. 15. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESS 13Getting press coverage is challeng-ing, but the payoff can be huge. Ifthe “right” reporters or bloggerswrite about your app, you stand togain a huge amount of registra-tions or downloads in a shortperiod of time. This success alonecan catapult your app up the AppStore charts. If you accept pre-registrations, then you may wantto give journalists a preview ofyour app. Let them use a late stage beta. Permit them to write about itahead of time, provided, of course, your landing page has the meansto capture the email addresses of those who wish to sign-up for yourrelease. Alternatively, you can preview the app to several reporters,and ask that they all hold off writing until launch. If you follow thistactic, be sure to build in no more than a week between preview andlaunch. The more time that passes the more likely it is that (a.) some-one breaks the embargo (this will disrupt the relationships you aretrying to build with the reporters), or (b.) the reporters who have triedyour product forget about it or lose interest in reporting on it.What youll need to prepare to get press coverage:Make a demo video. A demo video is an important piece of contentto include when youre reaching out for press coverage. An appwithout a demo video is like a movie without a trailer. Demo videoshelp people understand what your app does, convert website visitorsinto customers, and give the press content to share with their audi-ence.If done right, a trailer video can lead to increased conversions whenadded to your website and improve the chances of the press coveringyour story.
  16. 16. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESS 14 Write your press release and assemble your press kitYour press release and press kit will be given to journalistsafter they express initial interest in your story.Here’s what you should include in your press release: Basics • App Name • App Store Link: (to be updated on launch day) • Category: (i.e. Music, Productivity, etc.) • About: A clear, concise (3-4 paragraphs max.) story of what your app does and what makes it unique, how your app came to be, or what problem it solves Links • Demo Video • Website • Twitter • Facebook Contact Info • Your Name • Your Email • Your Personal Twitter • Your Phone NumberOnce you’ve written your press release, you should include itwithin your press kit along with: • App icon Images (include pixel sizes: 56x56, 114x114, 256x256, 512x512) • Screenshots • Marketing Images • Team Photos
  17. 17. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESS 15Target the right journalist. App review and press sites are notcreated equal. Some will convert much better than others and certainjournalists will be much more interested in your app. It’s important toidentify journalists that fit your app’s industry.One way to find targeted leads: 1. Go to 2. Search for one of your competitor’s websites 3. Click “Sites Linking In” This strategy helps you identify which journalists covered one of your competitors or a company in your industry, which means they will probably be more interested in hearing about your app. The “Sites Linking In” list created by Alexa shows the top 100 sites with inbound links to the app and helps you find the most reputable sites that covered one of yourcompetitors or companies in your industry.Create a Google Spreadsheet of these writers that includes: • Name • Contact Email • Link to the article they’ve written in the past that relates to your appCheck out Muck Rack, a comprehensive database of journalists. It’ssignificantly less expensive than other similar PR services, and itincludes the reporters’ social media identities, which makes it easier tocontact them in more social environments.
  18. 18. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESS 16 Pitching the pressMake sure to keep your email message short and to the point.Journalists are very busy and many receive hundreds of pitchesa day. Here’s a pitch email example that helped us get presscoverage:Subject Hi – Launch story for a new app Author’s first name that Secret sauce or unique value of your appBody Hey , Author’s first name A while back you wrote an interesting piece about An app similar to yours or maybe a piece the author wrote about your space and how it . Something interesting from that article . Your opinion or write a sentence about how this relates to your app Our app, , is building a Your app name . Unique value of your app We’re launching in the App Store on . Your launch day Do you think this could be an interesting story for your readers? Thanks, Your first name
  19. 19. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESS 17Be sure to customize this pitch according to what the reporter wrote.And be doubly certain you have actually read the journalist’s articles.Honesty is key when interacting with the press.Begin this process at least a month prior to your launch or releaseupdate and dont look at getting press as a one-time thing. Buildingrelationships with journalists for the long-term can help you getadditional exposure on future releases of your app and sustaingrowth.The most important thing to do is be mindful about the journalist’sreaders. Make sure to structure your apps story differently for eachwriter based on past content theyve written and the publication’sparticular niche.
  20. 20. 6Optimize: Prepping forthe App Store “Shelves”
  21. 21. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESS 19Searching the App Store still remains the number one way people findmobile apps, so its important that your listing is formatted to gain asmuch exposure from App Store search as possible.Much like Googles search engine, the App Store has an algorithm thatranks apps for different search terms. Preparing your app listing to beoptimized in the App Store can result in a marked increase in down-loads.The goal of App Store Optimiza- App Store Ranking Factorstion is to get your app to rankhigher than its competitors forspecific keywords that people Although it remains some-search in the App Store. what of a mystery, it has been reported that the App Store algorithm takes intoIn order to rank well in the App account four main factors toStore, focus on these 3 steps: determine an apps ranking: 1. Keywords in your1. Identify the right keywords app titleOver 80 percent of App Store 2. Keyword frequency in your app descriptionsearches are related to thefunction an app does, not the 3. Number of down-app’s name. Use Google Key- loads over timeword Tool and apply a filter to 4. App Store ratingsyour search to show keywordideas and statistics for “allmobile devices.” Applying thisfilter helps you find keywords that people are searching Google forwhen using mobile devices.Look for relatively low competition, high volume keywords and/orkeyword phrases (two to three keywords linked together). Dont tryand compete against popular apps for their same keywords. Instead,optimize for longer keyword phrases that have lower competition, buthigh search volume.
  22. 22. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESS 202. Include keywords in your app name, description, and keywords fieldApp Store search results currently only display one app at a time,which means most people wont look past the first five to ten searchresults, thus people are more likely to search for longer keywordphrases to get better results.App name. Your App Store name is the main text people will see oncetheyve found your app. It is also the text that affects how your appranks in the App Store the most. Narrow your list of keywords down toa couple of the most important and try to incorporate them in yourApp Store name. In other words, competing on keyword phrases like "transit maps" versus just "maps" can help make it easier for customers to find your app. “Your App Store For example, the Flixster app is called name is the text "Movies by Flixster with Rotten Toma- that affects how toes." This title contains multiple your app ranks keywords, "Movies" "Rotten Toma- in the App Store toes" and "Flixster" to improve App the most.” Store search discoverability. This is much better than simply naming the app "Flixster." click to tweet Your app name can be between up to 255 characters but Apple recommends that you try to keep it to fewer than 35characters to display optimally on the App Store for iPhone.App description. The first line you write of your App Store descriptionis what App Store browsers see without having to click "more" whenthey visit your app listing in the App Store. Most people shopping forapps wont read your full description anyway, so try and pique theirinterest with your first sentence.If you receive any notable reviews from press or design awards makesure to mention them in your App Store description as well. These
  23. 23. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESS 21accolades and reviews can increase the chances of converting an AppStore browser into a customer.The full length of your App Store description can be as long as you like,but the first few lines should tell what your app does and how it worksin about the length of a tweet.Keywords. When you list your app in the App Store, theres a fieldwhere you can list all of your keywords. Youre allowed to put a maxi-mum of 100 characters.Optimize this listing by: 1. Looking for longer keyword phrases (2-3 keywords linked together) that are less com- petitive and could be used to describe your apps function K E Y W W 2. Adding as many keywords as possible in the keywords field O O R D D 3. Not using spaces when listing your keywords. Use "flixster,movies" not "flixster, movies" S K E Y Y3. Convert App Store views intodownloads with beautyThe icon. Pixel for pixel, your app icon will be the most importantthing you will design. In terms of size, its a small part of the overalldesign work that youll be doing but it represents everything aboutyour app - attention to detail, quality, and creativity. Its also the mainvisual that App Store browsers and your customers will use to identifyyour app.A useful way to test if your icon stands out is to compare it againstyour competitors. Someone should easily be able to get a sense ofwhat your app does simply by viewing the icon.
  24. 24. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESS 22Think of the App Store as filled with window shoppers, who are easilyswayed to move on to the next store down the road. Make sure youricon not only pops, but helps people understand exactly what yourapp does.Screenshots. Once prospects have clicked on your App Store listing,they will go to a more detailed page that shows your apps descriptionand screenshots. The reality is most people may only read the first lineof your app description before scrolling down to look at your screen-shots.Make sure that youre showing off the best aspects of your app. Agood test would be to see if someone can tell exactly what your appdoes and how benefits them simply by looking at your screenshots.
  25. 25. 7Final Thoughts
  26. 26. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESS 24Although it may seem mature, the App Store is still in its early days.A massive opportunity exists for those who understand its inner-workings, regardless of how many apps they’ve developed in the past.The mobile industry is literally the fastest growing industry in history,so its important that you keep pushing your app forward. Listen toinput from your customers and use your instincts to stay on top of your market. Finally, remember that you should not “Remember that simply rely on the App Store as your you should not core marketing channel. Using a simply rely on the combination of channels like your own website, a blog, and social media as App Store as your vehicles for your app’s story is an core marketing instrumental piece in turning your app channel. Using into a success. a combination of channels is an Although there are challenges, and instrumental not all apps will be mega-hits like piece in turning Instagram or Angry Birds, the App your app into Store gives you access to one of the a success.” largest, most fruitful marketplaces in the world. click to tweet
  27. 27. HOW TO MARKET YOUR iOS APP: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO APP STORE SUCCESSWritten by Designed byMikael Cho Miguel GaydoshMikael is the co-founder of ooomf,where the most talented mobile & web Project Managercreators connect with projects they love.Mikael writes more posts on product Kelly Ricemarketing and psychology over on theooomf blog. Hit him on Twitter@mikaelcho anytime. What is Kinvey? Kinvey makes a fully-featured Backend as a Service solution, offering 3rd party data integrations, multi-plat- form support, push notifications, and custom business logic on a platform where its free to get started and you only pay when your app is successful. Build your backend today ooomf is the worlds first marketplace where handpicked, talented mobile & web creators connect with and work on projects they love. Request an invite or submit your project.